The Primary Management Bodies (An Foras Pátrúnachta, CPSMA, Church of Ireland Board of Education, Educate Together, ETBI, NAMBSE and the Muslim Primary Board) today issued a joint statement calling for the immediate increase in the basic capitation rate by 50% to €275 per pupil and an increase of 10% across all other capitation rates. The rate of the Ancillary Services Grant should also be increased by 10% and the ‘capping’ of the grant to an enrolment of 500 pupils should be abolished for larger schools.
Increased investment by the state is now essential so that school communities are not totally dependent on voluntary contributions from already hard-pressed parents to provide basic requirements, such as heat, light, and water, in schools.
Even before the recent alarming rises in electricity prices, the price of heating oil has risen by nearly 115% in a year, and general inflation rates are running at over 9%.
Schools cannot survive, let alone thrive, on the current rates.
The Primary Management Bodies warned that the cost of living crisis was not just an issue for individuals but for entire school communities.
Individual Comments from the Primary Management Bodies:
Caoimhín Ó hEaghra, Ard Rúnaí An Foras Pátrúnachta:
“Tá dualgas ar an stát cinntiú go bhfuil dóthain maoiniú ag scoileanna chun freastal cuí a dhéanamh ar a gcuid daltaí. Bhí bearna riamh idir an maoiniú a cuirtear ar fáil agus an costas a bhaineann le scoileanna a rith. Líon scoileanna an bearna seo tríd a gcuid tuismitheoirí. Ní raibh sé seo cothrom do thuismitheoirí agus níl sé cothrom anois. Is gá ardú suntasach sa gcaipitíocht chun gur féidir le scoileanna feidhmiú mar ba chóir”
Seamus Mulconry, General Secretary, CPSMA:
“Parents have been subsidising schools for years but the Bank of Mum and Dad is not solvent enough to support primary schools – the state must act to fulfil its constitutional obligation to provide a free primary education.”
Emer Nowlan, CEO of Educate Together:
“When schools are underfunded, disadvantaged students lose out most. Chronic underfunding is now at crisis level and the government must act.”
Dr Ken Fennelly, Secretary, Church of Ireland Board of Education:
“In speaking with school leaders over recent weeks, the major concern expressed to me is the rising cost in the running of schools. We need sufficient funds to educate our children in a warm and safe environment. Funding needs to be raised to a realistic level to reflect the current cost of living.”
Asiya Al Tawash, Chair, MPEB:
“Both schools and parents are now facing into ongoing financial difficulties. It is time to adequately resource the education all our children need and deserve.”
Eileen O’Rourke, General Secretary, NABMSE:
“Many special schools and special classes are located in rooms and buildings that are old, unsuitable and unsafe-they constitute a safety risk to staff and students. The upkeep of unsuitable dilapidated buildings is a significant cost for schools who have to meet these ongoing costs from their capitation grant. These classrooms/buildings are not insulated to modern standards, and are inefficient and costly to run. There needs to be an easily accessible enhanced minor works grant for damages, repairs, replacement and purchase of resources within our sector to ensure basic safety for the children in our care.“
School Insurance costs:
“The cost of school insurance has been soaring in the Special Education Needs sector for many years due to the complex needs and challenges of the children being supported in special schools and special classes. Schools cannot continue paying up to €50,000 p.a. for insurance, and need urgent support to meet these fast rising costs.”
Paddy Lavelle, ETBI:
“With many schools resorting to parent contributions to fund the basics of running a school, the disparity between the education experiences of children from different socio-economic backgrounds is growing even further. An increase in the state funding available to schools is essential to stop this in its tracks.“